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Sicilian Ricotta Spongecake

Sponge cake ingredients:
  • Butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Finely chopped rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 egg whites

Filling ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 lb. fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb. mixed candied fruit
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 1-oz. squares semi-sweet chocolate, chopped in pieces
  • 8 tbsp. Maraschino liqueur

To make the sponge cake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10 inch spring-form cake pan.

Whisk the eggs yolks with the sugar, grated lemon rind and 3 tbsp. hot water until light and foamy. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and fold it into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. With a large spoon, fold them into the cake mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cake is a rich golden color and springs back when pressed lightly. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:

Dissolve the sugar in 3 tbsp. of water over low heat. Beat the sugar syrup with the ricotta cheese until it is smoothly blended. Put aside about half of the best pieces of candied fruit to decorate the cake. Chop the remainder coarsely.

Add the cinnamon to the sweetened ricotta and beat until smooth and creamy. Put aside a few tbsp. of the mixture for decoration. Combine the remainder with the chopped fruit and chocolate.

Cut the sponge cake in half horizontally. Put one layer on the bottom of the cake pan, cut side up, and sprinkle it with half of the Maraschino. Spread with the remaining cheese mixture. Fit the ring of the cake pan in position and chill the cake for several hours.

When ready to serve, remove the cake from the pan and place it on a large, flat serving dish. Coat the top and sides with the reserved cheese and decorate with the reserved candied fruit.

You may also decorate the cake with whipped cream, and the candied fruits may be supplemented with chopped nuts.

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